Lithuania's economy, which expanded 5.6 percent last year, continues to power its way forward in 2003, as industrial sales and exports soared over the first two months of the year.
On a year-on-year basis industrial sales grew by 22.5 percent in the first two months of 2003, or 17.8 if oil refining is not taken into account, the statistics department reported.
Exports soared by 36.8 percent in January compared with the same period last year, while imports grew by 5.5 percent year-on-year, preliminary customs data showed.
Lithuania's monthly exports reached 1.8 billion litas (539 million euros) in January, while imports totaled 2 billion litas, the statistics department announced.
The country's foreign trade deficit amounted to 173.7 million litas, more than three times lower than a year ago.
EU markets remain the main destination for Lithuanian exports, accounting for 40.4 percent of the total exports in January. Imports from the EU represented 36 percent of total trade.
Exports to the CIS markets accounted for 12.1 percent of the total exports, while imports amounted to 34.5 percent of the total imports.
At the start of this year, Lithuania's largest export partners were Switzerland, accounting for 14.4 percent of total exports, followed by Germany with 9.7 percent, Latvia with 8.2 percent, Denmark with 7.8 percent, Russia with 7.6 percent and Estonia with 6.9 percent.
Mazeikiu Nafta (Mazeikiai Oil) has started exporting its products via Switzerland, which explains why the country has moved to the top of Lithuania's export partners.
Regarding industrial sales, in February compared with January, an increase was recorded for the following groups of commodities: oil products (33.3 percent) and medical and optical instruments (8.8 percent).
In February, total industrial sales went up by 3.6 percent on a monthly basis, and registered a 26 percent rise year-on-year.
Excluding oil products, overall industrial sales dropped by 4.1 percent month-on-month, but were up 15.3 percent year-on-year.
Lithuania's exports to Estonia and Norway (4.5 percent of total) rose this year due to increased ship-repairing orders from those countries.
Russia remained in top position in import rankings, accounting for 31.3 percent of Lithuania's total imports, followed by Germany with 13 percent, Estonia with 4.4 percent, Poland with 4 percent and France with 3.5 percent.